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Defensive observations from FSU’s blowout loss to Louisville

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Penalties, missed tackles, and bad angles lead to another poor defensive performance.

Florida State v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Florida State football’s defense has seen many struggles this year, but the biggest came today in the first half against Louisville. The Cardinals ran up and down the field with big play after big play en-route to a blowout victory. Here are our defensive observation’s from the loss:

  • FSU’s defensive line has to get home on their pass rush, or else the defense is going to have a lot of gaps down the field. Last week, FSU got pressure on Sam Howell early and often, which forced him away from the passes he wanted to make. Adam Fuller also tried to bring blitzes to aid the DL, but no one was bringing Cunningham down, as he was sacked just once. The rush just couldn’t get home this week and Malik Cunningham took advantage.
  • Florida State once again couldn’t stop the big play. The big play have come in bunches this year, and they once again came over and over in the first half as the Cardinals ran up and down the field. The big plays have come from missed tackles, blown coverage, or bad angles. In the first half alone, UL had five plays of 35 yards or more, including three 55+ yard gains.
  • The ‘Noles shot themselves in the foot early. They ran into multiple personal fouls on the defensive side. Brendan Gant picked up a personal foul after he tackled a running back out of bounds. Janarius Robinson also picked up a roughing the passer penalty on a TD. Between the bad tackling, angles, and penalties, the Seminoles made it nearly impossible for themselves to get off the field.
  • There were multiple times in the first quarter alone where Florida State was in position to make plays, but a missed tackle led to a big play. The biggest one came when Akeem Dent bit down on a run pile, before Javian Hawkins bounced it outside for a 70-yard TD run. The play went from a big tackle for loss, to a break-away TD for the running back.
  • Louisville took advantage of matchups all day long on the Seminoles. The biggest mismatch came in the form of Tutu Atwell. The wideout made two plays of more than 55 yards as he reeled in three catches for 129 yards in the first half alone. His first big play came in one-on-one coverage with Jarvis Brownlee, before burning safety Travis Jay deep for a touchdown.
  • Florida State simply could not get off the field. They hardly could give themselves opportunities to get off the field. Louisville scored a touchdown on their first four drives, before an overturned TD and a chop block led to a Louisville field goal. The ‘Noles didn’t get their first third down stop till there was less than two minutes left in the half.
  • Emmett Rice brought down Malik Cunningham for a sack and a safety late in the third quarter. Since the 2nd half of the Notre Dame game, Rice has been one of, if not FSU’s best defender (outside of Asante Samuel Jr.). Rice finished the day with a team-leading 8 tackles, the only sack, a TFL, and a pass break up.